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McNair Scholar 2012Bezaleel Gebru

Bezaleel Gebru is a senior at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, studying Public Health and Environmental Sciences. Her research interests revolve around understanding access to health care and key environmental drivers of health disparities. Ms. Gebru plans on getting her Master’s in Public Health.

Bezaleel Gebru photo
I aspire to see the gaping divides of health disparities minimized in my life time. My goal is to work in different parts of the world with various communities to develop sustainable health systems

Research project

Potential Exposure to PFC's in the Hmong Community in the East Metro

Abstract: Increasing concentration levels of perfluorochemicals (PFCs) in the environment and biological material has become a growing focus of research. There is much to still be understood about the effects of these chemicals on humans and the environment. From their extremely stable chemical state, to their bio-accumulative tendency, PFCs pose serious implications for humans. The 3M-disposal site in close proximity to the Hmong farmlands poses a potential risk of exposure to these chemicals. This risk may not be realized since the farmlands are rented and not owned by the Hmong farmers. There lies a knowledge gap as to whether these lands are safe to farm, and if produce is safe for consumption. In collaboration with the community, we sampled soil and vegetation on these lands. We analyzed samples using LC/MS/MS and measured for concentration levels of PFC (detection limits: 10ppb for plants, 1.33ppb for soils). Our results did not show elevated levels of PFCs in the samples. All samples were below the detection limits. These study results should only be the beginning of deeper and larger scaled studies in this area to comprehensively determine the true status of the East Metro farmlands. Elevated PFC levels will have implications in how industries dispose of their waste. Conversely if levels are low, this should positively impact the market of the farmers as well as securing food safety for buyers. Download poster. [PDF]

Faculty profile

Matt Simcik is currently an Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota. He received an M.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Minnesota and a Ph.D. in environmental Sciences from Rutgers. His research interests include the fate and transport of organic contaminants in the atmosphere and waters of the Great Lakes.